The Fresno State men’s rugby team ended their historic season by winning the D1AA National Championship title.
Men’s rugby club head coach Patrick Quan said that on a trip to Arlington, Texas to take on the University of Kansas, the team knew Kansas was a type of team that she had never acted before.
“It was a total gut check,” he said.
April was a strong month for the team, which began by winning the Pacific Western Conference League Championship from Sacramento State to clinch the West Coast Championship mid-month.
The team scored 12 points against Kansas, and Quan credited it to the defense for being brave in winning the game.
The team lost one of its best players, Isaia Kruse, early in the second half. Three other players were down at the end of the game with “executive violations,” but the team managed to hold Kansas on the Bulldogs 5-yard line for the final 10 minutes.
“It’s an understandable formula for defeat, but the goal line made by these young men was heroic and clearly defined them as champions,” Quan said.
He noted that the result of winning the national championship was not just a one-year effort, but the result of seven years of hard work. The ‘Dogs continued to win games, earn a playoff berth, and take first place in their league. They won the PACWEST conference tournament, then the regionals and nationals – all stages, according to Quan, allowed the team to rise to the top.
“Coaches and players have never shied away from long-term goals, and each team in this process has been an important part of moving towards a national championship,” he said.
Due to the pandemic, the team’s training was interrupted and it was unable to meet the goals that had been set. Despite losing some of its staff, the team still came back with a core of good rugby players, Quan said.
“That, mixed with a new generation of tough, athletic young men, was the perfect combination for our race this year,” he said. “We improved all year and we needed it to achieve our common goals.”
The team received a lot of support this season from club athletic director Eddie Dominguez, who was able to help with some of the finances for the trip to Texas. With funding from the Fresno State Sports Club, they were able to receive the remainder of their funds from the local rugby community in Fresno.
Quan also thanked the Fresno State Police Department for transporting light towers to the grass field so the team could practice on campus.
“Frankly, beyond that, our connection to the school comes from the player side. I mean they’re all full-time students at Fresno State in good standing, paying their tuition, going to their classes and represent their school,” he said.
“The link between the school and the program is a little more unresolved in the sense of interaction and provision of resources. I hope a national championship is a great example of what the rugby program can bring to Fresno State, but what does it get back from the school to maintain and enhance that notoriety national is the question I cannot answer. You will have to ask them. »
With this national championship, the club sports paradigm is slowly changing as more and more teams bring home trophies, according to Quan.
“I don’t know if it will, but it should,” he said.
As a supporter and fan of Fresno State Athletics, Quan is proud of all of their successes.
He said these rugby athletes who attend Fresno State, pay for their own tuition, housing, books and more, essentially support the financial health of the university, but are treated as not as important as sports. who take or depend on university funding.
“These students, in my opinion, are the ultimate Fresno State athletes in their purest form,” he said.
Quan emphasized his gratitude and pride for the team. He said he was blessed to be involved with the players, coaches, staff, parents and the local community.
“It was a wonderful journey for me that I will cherish throughout my life,” he said.